Canada Lynx

ZOO LOCATION: Rocky Mountain Wild

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Wild Diet: Mainly snowshoe hares; also carrion, ground-dwelling birds (like grouse) and small mammals

Zoo Diet: Feline diet with two fast days per week; bones

Predators: Poaching by humans for fur

SSP: no

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Found in dense sub-alpine forests of Canada, North America, Europe and Asia that are snowbound for several months each year.

Characteristics: Canada lynx are medium-sized cats with distinctive solid black short tails and long legs. Their faces have furred beards, and tails have black tips. They are larger and paler than bobcats with a grayish coat and obscure spots. Weights are typically 18 - 25 lbs. and adults are about 2 ft. tall and 2-3 ft. Long. Lynx magnificent ear tufts may be nearly as long as their ears.

Behavior: Home is usually a hollow log or dry cavity under the roots of a tree. A male's quest for a female is announced with growls and screams. They are skilled climbers and will use a tree as a resting place or a scratching post to sharpen their claws and limber their muscles. Lynx typical hunting strategy includes patience, stalking prey or crouching and waiting beside a trail. Often surprised, the prey taken down with a single powerful bound. They are active year round, with their large furred feet helping them navigate through the snow.

Reproduction: Gestation period is between 63 and 70 days with breeding season usually occurring in winter. The female gives birth to 1-4 young in April or May. They open their eyes after 16 or 17 days and nurse for about 5 months. The young stay with their mothers until the next mating season. Sexual maturity is reached in about 33 months for males and 21 months for females.

Conservation: Lynx were once distributed across almost all of Europe and northern North America, but were intensively pursued and have been eliminated in much of their former habitat, partly because of the valuable fur and partly because the animal was thought to be a pest, harming game animals. Lynx disappeared from Colorado in 1973. Sightings prior to that time were few, scattered throughout mountainous areas of the state. In 1999 the Colorado Division of Wildlife began an ambitious program to restore lynx in the remote San Juan Mountains, and by 2005 more than 200 animals had been released, a number of kittens had been born, and today, lynx are expanding throughout the high country and occasionally beyond. Lynx are still considered State Endangered in Colorado.